MALLORY CATLETT

DIRECTOR/dramaturg

R ii

From STARGAZER by Stephen Koch:
His innovation has been to surrender to that withdrawal rather than struggle against it. Whether out of weakness or strength, surrender or mastery he is the exemplar of a certain modern condition, one in which the presence of the self, for itself and for others, is forever in question, in danger. . . He has invented a spectacle of acceptance-not fighting against it, accept perhaps in his most pallid and hidden recesses, afraid of the dark–and in doing so embraced a startling decadence.

Presence is threatening to him: Distance is essential, itself a source of gratification. Distance gratifies because it resolves . . . However ambivalently, he wants and needs it, and will defend it. What is his problem? He can find no wedge of entry into the primal scene: He cannot present himself where love is. But he clings to his exclusion and protects it; unlike most people suffering from the sting of exclusion, he has no interest in breaking in. For the menace of some terrible threat hangs over the impulse to present himself. One cannot speak generally about what this menace might be, except to say that it is very dire. Never underestimate its power; an entire personality and its most profound energies have been reconstructed, redefined to avoid what most people call gratification, to create what most call frustration. Somewhere in this is what the unconscious mistakenly understands to be the threat of death. Like all compulsives, he is trying to save his own life by refusing to live.